Thursday, September 15, 2011

Creative thinking in public education?

Possession means actual care, custody, control of management. 
-- Texas Controlled Substances Act Sec. 481.002(38)
Possession is different than use. Possession is different that "under the influence."

To possess an item is to exert some degree of control over a tangible object. The tangible object, such as a controlled substance, is necessary to prove possession. After all, you can't have control over something that no longer exists.

For instance, one may be in possession of marijuana at the time he is smoking it. But, as he smokes the marijuana, the drug breaks down in various components and metabolites in his body. At the same time, the marijuana itself is destroyed by fire. After smoking marijuana one may be "under the influence" of it. One may even be intoxicated by smoking the marijuana, though that would be difficult to prove without a test showing the concentration of the metabolites in the body and expert medical testimony regarding the effects of marijuana in the concentration found in the body.

The State of Texas defines marijuana (please, someone, explain to our legislators that no one else spells marijuana with an h) as "the plant Cannibis sativa L., whether growing or not, the seeds of that plant, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture or preparation of that plant or its seeds."

Nowhere in the definition of the hippy lettuce does the state allege that the metabolites left in the body after ingesting marijuana is marijuana.

Texas defines controlled substance is "a substance, including a drug, an adulterant and a dilutant listed in [the Controlled Substance Act]."

Once a person absorbs a controlled substance, Xanax, for instance, that substance is broken down by the body into various metabolites - a term not used in the definition of controlled substance. One can be intoxicated if he ingests a controlled substance (or marijuana) and loses the normal use of his mental or physical faculties as a result. However, one is not in possession of the controlled substance once it has been ingested - because the controlled substance itself no longer exists.

In fact, you can make the argument that once someone is "under the influence" of a drug, that the drug is in control of the person and not the other way around. How else could one be "under the influence?"

But try explaining that simple concept to a school administrator who declares that being under the influence of a drug on a school campus is the same thing as possessing the drug on a school campus. I recently had a school administrator tell me, with a straight face, that, per district policy, that if a student is under the influence of Xanax, for instance, that student is considered to be in possession of the drug; and, since possession of Xanax is a state jail felony, that the student under the influence of Xanax is subject to expulsion because their conduct amounted to a felony.


I have yet to find a statute in the Texas Penal Code or in the Health and Safety Code that makes it a felony to be under the influence of Xanax (unless, of course, the person was driving a vehicle with a child or was in an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury or death to another person).

Just something to think about.

1 comment:

Scott C. Pope said...

Paul, you know as well as I do that schools have gradually abdicated discipline to the worst possible place--the court system. What better way to get rid a potential troublemaker than to just expel him? It's pathetic on every level imaginable.